Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tobacco Awareness Project

So, this week was insanely hectic with everything else not related to school and I will attempt to do a brief run of what's happening at UCSF right now. This weekend, UCSF Alumni Bob Day hosted his annual barbecue at his house in Corte Madera that he has been hosting for ASP over the past 32 years. About 20 of us pharmacy students drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to be pleasantly surprised with the welcoming weather in Marin county. We were given a tour of his gorgeous home and took a hike along the lush mountains in the nearby Redwood forest, making the average backyard in the city look like a patch of dry grass. Smelling the grill on our way back, we were treated to an old-fashioned American barbecue dinner: hamburgers, hot links, mashed potatoes, chicken salad, fruit salad, homemade cookies, and fruit tarts. It was the perfect salvation from a nonstop trail of midterms.

I met with Dr. Robin Corelli and Dr. Kroon to plan out our roles as Tobacco Awareness Project Coordinators. The project has shifted from its original emphasis on prevention toward quitting. The first order of business was to attend these counseling sessions where we shadow pharmacists assessing and assisting patients to quit smoking. Then we conduct demonstrations or lectures about medication use. This counseling experience will come in handy in our third years when we start screening every patient in the hospital for tobacco use. We will also have an opportunity to help write the tobacco cessation chapter in the therapeutics book. Having our names in a publication in our second year will be quite an achievement. Also, there are a ton of health fairs where industry representatives will be providing lung function machines, computer-based imaging of smokers with continual smoking over a period of time, cessation consultations, and medication use demonstrations. These fairs include the mobile unit known as the GSK Motivational Center, sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, to promote their OTC nicotine replacement products; the other includes the Nascar Solano County Fair.

Currently, there are two main types of drugs: nicotine replacement therapies and nicotinic partial agonists. A motley of formulations are associated with low patient adherence because are using their meds incorrectly. For example, the Nicotrol nicotinic inhaler is not like an albuterol inhaler. Patients have to create the inflow with their lungs by sucking on the inhaler in a stuccato manner over 20 minutes. Another example is the nicorrette gum. Unlike regular trident, you only chew the gum until a tingling sensation is felt, then park the piece along the cheek until the sensation dissapears and continue to repeat the process. The frequency of chewing the gum must be decreased over a ten-twelve week period to allow the body to slowly decrease its reliance on nicotine.

I visited my resdent Robert also. I realized that Robert is extremely happy during my visit. When I asked him why, he said that it was because the doctor decided to release him in about a month. He plans to get another apartment in the city and resume his life. I worry about what is going to happen to him when he is outside of an environment that protect him from drugs and other bad influences. He does seem older and wiser than his former self when he was living on the streets. Even though he is off heroine, he still cannot kick his smoking habit. He can at least spend his last years perhaps with his grown daughters or in peace in the city he loves so much.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

UCSF Community service auction

I wanted to devote some blog space to talking about the UCSF School of pharmacy spring auction that we are hosting. So basically, we go out into Sunset, Union Square, and Haight to inquire if local businesses and restaurants would be interested in donating to our Spring Auction that will be held May 31st at 3:30pm in the MU conference center.

I have been working pretty hard on obtaining donations for our Spring community service auction. Look at what I have accomplished in such a short amount of time. Hopefully we get a good turn out and raise a lot of money.

Descriptions of Auction items that I personally was able to get:

Company: Carmelina's Taqueria
Donation: 2 $25 gift certificates
How obtain: I will pick it up when it's available, manager keeps telling me her printer is broken, so she has to make punch card certificates instead
Location: UCSF

Company: Ghirardelli
Donation: $25 gift basket
How obtain: Mailed 5/14/07 to Stephanie Zi
Website reference if needed:
Store location:,San%2BFrancisco,CA,94108

Company: Lush
Donation: 2 $50 Gift baskets
How obtain: I will pick it up when it's ready on the 5/21/07 (want me to hold it until the 31st?)
Website reference if needed:
Store location:
Manager does not have an ad, so Nathan can refer to the website?

Company: Benefit Cosmetics
Donation: $1000 After Hours Benefit Boutique Party
How obtain: will mail to Stephanie Zi tomarrow or day after (their office is in SF so you should recieve it by the beginning of next week
Further details:
I confirmed with Angelica over the phone that they're definitely going to do this party. We don't deal with the PR office about arranging it, the "winner" is supposed to contact the boutique and arrange the party. Stephanie will recieve the details about the boutique contact. The gift certificate has all the details of the party, and the PR rep was in a hurry, so I don't have any further details about the event. I know so far that it includes a choice of lip or eyebrow waxing; appetizers and champagne are served.

Website reference if needed:
We can either auction 15 invitations, 7 invitations for you and a friend, or auction the whole thing. I think 15 invitations will optimize profit. Here are 2 boutique locations in SF for your reference.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Ciao manhattan

It doesn't matter if it is noon, late afternoon, dinner time, or 1 in the morning. You will most likelye find one or two groups of pharmacy students in S1320 (the anatomy lab). Removing organs, dissecting out veins, ganglia, and identifying every notch or lobe in the abdomen and thorax as if we were actually anatomists. All in a day's work in preparation for our midterm coming up on monday. For some, it has developed into no less than an obsession. I think this attitude has been spearheaded by one of our most popular instructors, Dhillon, assumes this sort of drill sergant teaching style. He just bulldozes loads of information into our head, much more than necessary to pass our tests, so that we can have a more well rounded understanding of why an organ is located where it is. It was intellectually tiring sitting through his review session and lectures, but it holds true to that med school tradition of scholarship and testing your endurance. I'm glad he's making the extra effort to challenge us.

In stark contrast, pharmacogenetics and biopharmaceutics have been not quite as interesting as I expected. Su Guo guides us relatively slowly through a review of basic genetics and is just now skimming the surface of population genetics. The terms (recessive, dominant, allele, genotype, etc) that we must learn are dryly linked in lecture to obscure genetic diseases like sickle cell anemia or G6DP deficiency. Biopharmaceutics is so random because it feels more like an elective than a real core class. We have heard lectures on quite futuristic forms of drug delivery but are not quite applicable to our practice at the moment. It feels like the Pharmaceutical chemistry department is using this class to promote moving their technology into the clinics.

I also did quite a few other random activities this weekend.

I went downtown to union square to ask businesses to donate gift certificates to the APhA-ASP community service auction. The event is put on by the Associated Students of Pharmacy to raise money for our health fairs. In the past, people have been donating services like being designated driver for a night or dinner at someone's house. Apparently, we have been short on donations either due to students putting off asking the businesses or businesses refusing to donate to another charity. Pretty much all the large chains told me to contact their public relations departments since the instore managers do not have authority to do so. This was what a COMPUSA manager told me, but I found on their website that the sales managers are allowed if not encouraged by corporate to participate in local non-profit organizations. Lush cosmetics, a company I really like, did agree up front since they run their operations as if it were local.

When I let myself procrastinate lately, I find myself watching these visually stunning edited clips of Edie sedgwick. Even without the thick black mascara, she's got a way with the camera. I can't wait to see Factory Girl when it comes out in June; it's an almost unreal juxtaposition of the 60's most prevalent pop culture icons: Edie, Dylan, Warhol... I hear Sienna Miller is remarkable in it, but I am not sure why she played her so bubbly in the trailer because Edie seems like one of the most disturbed and despondent figures to be featured on film. And even though Christian Haydenson is awful, he's not bad to look at either. Below is her in Ciao, Manhattan, featuring her precociously deep voiceover in the original video montage.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Spring: Birthdays,Galas, and maybe some studying

We finished our first CP113 midterm on friday and are going to begin a two week series of midterms for all our other classes. Time to start cracking open the books...

A good number of pharmacy 1's headed downtown to attend the Red Hot Black and White Gala on saturday night. I personally did not attend, since I was working at Walgreens. But from the pics on facebook, it looked like the high school prom all over again except without parental chauffers.

Instead, I spent all friday baking a strawberry vanilla cake for my high school friend's 23rd birthday. I can't believe that we are almost crossing that mid 20's crossmark. It seems that this year especially is passing by really fast. We made bellinis, 1 to 5 peach puree to sparkling wine and watched that Emilio Estevez movie "Bobby."

The movie featured a star studded ensemble including Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Heather Graham, Lindsay Lohan, Elijah Wood, Anthony Hopkins, and Helen Hunt. I thought it was a little slow for me since there was a lot of extraneous content, like LSD trips and merely mediocre acting failing to meet all the hyped expectations from such a prestigious cast. The scenes that previous conversations were leading up to, like the Americans revering RFK, Virginia Fallon's stage performance, and Stone's character confronting William H. Macy about the affair, contained more or less trite dialogue and inexperienced direction. Estavas essentially handicapped "Bobby" into a made for TV movie than the real piece of cinema that it could have been.

My innovative pharmacy practice experiences elective CP152.07 is turning out to be the highlights of my week, besides my other favorite class Intro to Drug Metabolism and pharmacokinetics. The pharmacy practice experiences exposed us to a range of different fields that we can specialized in. Last week, a vetanary pharmacist showed us the fruity or meat flavored chews and gels that he compounds on a daily basis. Apparently, pet owners are more than willing to pay a pricey amount for compounded medicines out of pocket as long as they do not have to deal with chasing and forcing the pet to take the medication. Essentially, it is like working in a retail compounding pharmacy except that you typically do not deal with insurance. This week, a transplant pharmacist gave a presentation on her inpatient experience treating transplant patients. Given the increasing demand for pharmacists to make recommendations, serve as a drug information resource, give lectures to rotating students, and prepare specialized therapy regiments for patients, the field can only grow as a potential area for pharmacists. Transplant patients are typically on 15 different meds: immunosuppresants, insulin for prophylaxis of diabetes, antimicrobials, antihypertensives, and lipid lowering agents. Pharmacists need to modify drug regiments with physicians to avoid toxic levels of unmetabolized drug when the body is attempting to eliminate all these meds at the same time. Renal and liver transplant is much more developed field than Lung and heart transplants. Therefore, there is a need for case study publications and expanding research for Lung and Heart transplants.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

First UCSF Leg Day ever!

APhA-ASP held its first ever whole day event to increase UCSF student political involvement by exposing them to legislative issues pertaining to their profession. We called it Leg Day. Dr. Lorie Rice, who taught Law and ethics last quarter, was able to get Assemblyman and 2008 State Senate Candidate Mark Leno to speak on Universal Health care. A group of class leaders from the pharmacy school was able to explain to Leno about what pharmacists can do for the community: medication therapy management, taking medications correctly, avoiding adverse drug reactions, clinical pharmacy, and be involved in clinical research especially through the research projects in the Health policy and management/ Pharmaceutical sciences pathway.

During his talk, Leno rightly stated that as the baby boomer population ages and live longer, they will develop more diseases and increase health insurance costs for everyone. He argued that the costs of health care are astronomical and the privatized insurance system is only becoming more complicated to understand and often standing in the way of physicians trying to give their patients the proper care that they need. By throwing out the privatized insurance system and rebuilding a socialized health care system, the government could administer health care more economically and efficiently. The debate is still ongoing about whether single payer vs. employee based health care is the way to go.

He also addressed how families in low income neighborhoods are surrounded by liquor and convenience stores. How is it that we cannot give many of these communities access to healthy foods despite our nation's wealth and status as an industrialized superpower? Well, the fast food and snack industry have been expanding their low-cost products into every street corner and successively hooked Americans at a young age to foods concentrated with sugar and fat. Leno boldly linked the inaccessibility to unprocessed natural foods rich in antioxidants, high in fiber, and slowly absorbed complex sugars to the obesity and diabetes epidemic in this nation. In the pre-meeting that we had with Leno, he quoted a staggering 1 in 5 ratio of the population have diabetes, which will jump alarmingly to 1 in 3 by 2020.

If the source of the problem is in fact access since we as Americans are embracing fast food culture as part of our busy lives, then we need to increase access of fresh, healthy foods especially to children so they adopt healthy eating habits early. Leno's plan to combat juvenile obesity/diabetes is his healthy fruits initiative. The bill would provide the training and equipment that would allow storeowners to store and sell fresh fruits and vegetables. in low-income neighborhoods to maintain refrigerated systems to store and sell issues relating to politics and health care. Afterwards, he invited us to visit his office any time.

The city hall health fair was pretty awesome. A lot of us P1's took the muni to city hall and donned our white coats. I got to counsel a few city employees on sources of calcium for osteoporosis. It was pretty slow but we got a large class turnout.

I had to rush back in order to prep for the Leg Dinner. Kieran Flaherty, a former Leno staff member, along with some pharmacy faculty members gathered to facilitate discussions on some key legislative issues. Basically, 25 pharmacy students helped to draft their stances in breakout sessions on medical marijuana, Universal health care, and Medicare Part D. We all generally supported Universal health care, medication therapy managment, and thought that greater research was needed to substantiate a bill to legalize medical marijuana and industrial hemp. We decided to hand them over to Lori Rice, who would forward them to Leno so he can better represent UCSF in the assembly.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


I think I worked harder this week than during finals week last quarter. I never realized how much work went into planning these school events: contacting all the participants, arranging set-up, arranging food, coordinating who does what, learning how to utilize the resources in the university, and all the while trying to have a good time. I am referring to the Tabula Art Show 2007. Calculating the top scores is actually quite difficult and making sure you instruct someone else to announce it correctly is a lot harder than it sounds when you're stressed out.

It was like working with one person then another, and constantly being able to shift your focus. Time just flies by even though you are not prepared for what came next. I was learning how to effectively adhere photos onto non-art walls one minute, then another minute, I am assembling a wooden easel because we used up all the ones that the MU loaned us. I think the worst moment was when I got the cork stuck in the wine bottle opener! Obviously, I don't drink that much...Thanks to Chris Cullander who gave me some tips about how to do it correctly.

My focus has been completely off school this past week and I hope I can make it up since it is still early in the quarter. The day after the art show, I had to coordinate the Patient Counseling Competition banquet. I sat next to the Dean of the Pharmacy school, Mary Anne Koda-kimble. She's always really modest in person. You can't tell that she is the one who sits on the board of the United States Pharmacopeia. She said that she was impressed with our class and that the students get smarter and nerdier every year. I am a nerd, so I couldn't really disagree with her.

I had to cram for the pharm calc quiz today by staying up last night until 3am. I don't know why I had to stay up so late just for a quiz. If this was any other week, my brain might have been in at least a semi-solid form to actually process information more efficiently.

I don't think I can do this again next year.

I might co-coordinate but I was taking on way too much. Especially since I had the patient counseling competition banquet the day after the Art Show. But I will have to say it was awesome seeing the finished show with all the pieces coming together. It was a success and I look forward to seeing it grow.

I visited my resident Robert for the first time since last quarter. I strolled into LLH this afternoon about 2:30pm and found him playing his video games in the lobby. I feel like he wears the same thing every day, but I'm not complaining cuz this way it is easier to find him in a crowd. He needed to ask me my name again this time, but he was able to remember it throughout the hour when I was speaking with him.

He repeated his life story to me again and reiterated his love for motorbikes. Heroine. Cocaine. His old apartment at 5th and Irving. This time he spoke about when he flew in an 3 seater airplane once. I'm not sure what he has not done throughout his life.

I brought him grapes I originally bought for the art show but we didn't need. He dug into the in-season ripe fruit quite happily; he seemed to appreciate the offer. And the whole exchange reminded me of the kind of simple, kind gestures people made in the past. It could have been triggered by the context of the constant references he made at the time to God, mary, and Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Back to basics

The past week and a half seemed to have flown by without me realizing that I was on spring break. I spent 6 out of the past 7 days working at walgreens. When my manager asked me to pull the night shift at a 24 hr store and get paid overtime, I really had to refuse. In between lunch breaks, I would race over to the art store and prepare all the the events that I am throwing this april.
I also got all these supplies for the art show coming up on the 11th. Not only did I pre-order 50 matboards to be shipped to my apartment from their warehouse in illinois, but I bought 5 canvases for myself discounted for bulk orders. I am rather enthusiastic about starting this new painting of venice, but at the same time, I do not have enough time to devote to a new painting since I am tied up with this art show. I really should be settling down and devoting more attention to my classes instead of delving so deeply into my extracurriculars. I don't think I will ever learn. I am definitely going to have to go on a trader joes run to load up on traditional gallery style refreshments.

I got these translucent invitation paper and printed invites for the patient counseling competition banquet on the 12th. I still have not confirmed the final guest count and menu with the restaurant that I am organizing the banquet at. It seems like people just RSVP at the last minute.

This seems like a common trend to deal with people who procrastinate whenever you take on these leadership roles. Another good example is waiting on some of the contestants in the Tabula art show for their artist statements. It seems to be a good skill to know how to handle situations like this.

This makes me think of my UCSF pharmacy school interview when a professor asked me what would I do (since she knew I edited for a paper in college) if writers would not submit their articles to me on time. I think my response was that I would find out about their situations and develop a plan with them to get the job done. In other words, you have to be accomodating to other people's circumstances because they change all the time. And if you don't learn this skill sooner or later, then you will not be able to work in teams. With the greater sophistication of products and services offered by American companies, having the patience and communication skills to collaborate seems almost essential.